Far North Queensland is one of the best Australia vacation spots for families. I am constantly surprised by how many Australians tell me that they have never been here – are they crazy?
It is such a beautiful part of the world to have on your doorstep, and Port Douglas with its stunning beaches, incredible rainforest and Great Barrier Reef is the jewel in its crown.
Not only does Port Douglas have the fabulous Four Mile Beach for hours of sandcastle building fun, but it also boasts easy access to both the Great Barrier Reef and the rainforest, and there are so many family-friendly Port Douglas attractions to keep the kids entertained all holiday.
So if you are trying to figure out what to do in Port Douglas Australia here are what we think are the best things to do in Port Douglas with kids.
Take a Great Barrier Reef Tour
One of the most popular Port Douglas activities is a day out on the Great Barrier Reef. One of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, diving or snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef is one of the big draws of Port Douglas tourism.
Quicksilver Cruises is a great option for if you are visiting Port Douglas with children. Their Outer Barrier Reef cruise transports you quickly (in 90 minutes) via giant catamaran to a floating platform at Agincourt reef.
Here you can snorkel to your heart’s content, or if your children are too young to snorkel, there is an underwater observatory to view the fish feeding, and semi-submersible submarines for a real underwater adventure.
Another option if you are in Port Douglas with toddlers or younger children, is a trip to the Low Isles, closer to the mainland. This boat trip moors at the coral cay, meaning you can snorkel from the beach, hang out and build sandcastles or take the glass bottom boat tour.
Explore the Rainforest at Mossman Gorge
The Daintree Rainforest contains the world’s oldest surviving rainforest and makes a fabulous Port Douglas day trip. There are plenty of Port Douglas tours to the Daintree – both half-day and full-day tours, or you can easily drive yourself.
There are several easy walking tracks here, serviced by sturdy boardwalks that meander through the rainforest and skirt along the Mossman River.
To wander further into the trees, the 2.4km Rainforest Circuit Track gives you more of a sense of adventure, but is still an easy hike – my 3-year old managed to walk it all without too much complaining (the promise of an ice-cream at the end did wonders).
Visit the Animals at Wildlife Habitat
The fabulous Wildlife Habitat is just on the outskirts of Port Douglas and is one of the best Port Douglas tourist attractions for families. I would say it was one of the highlights of my kids’ visit to Tropical North Queensland.
This immersive wildlife experience puts you right in amongst the action – walking amongst the flying birds, feeding the kangaroos and wallabies (which, by the way, my kids NEVER get tired of) and even cuddling a koala.
Arrive early to experience the Breakfast with the Birds – a tropical breakfast buffet in amongst the cacophony of sounds and colours of the birds as they fly and roam around you.
Visit Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures
Another of our favourite Port Douglas family activities was a visit to Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures, just a 20-minute drive south of Port Douglas. Set on the site of a commercial crocodile farm, there is plenty of croc-related fun to be had here.
Take a tour of the crocodile farm where you can stroke a baby croc, enjoy a boat cruise on Hartley’s Lagoon to see the crocodile feeding in action, and be enthralled by the Crocodile Attack Show, where one of the park rangers takes on a large Saltie!
An unexpected highlight for us was the Gondwana Gateway, where the kids can pet and feed the kangaroos and wallabies. My brave 3-year old even posed for a photo with a large Black Necked Python – while I stayed well out of the way!
Take a Crocodile Cruise
While Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures makes for a fun day out, nothing beats spotting crocodiles in their natural environment, which is why we also think a crocodile cruise is one of the top things to do in Port Douglas.
We chose to cruise on the Lady Douglas River Cruise, which departs four times throughout the day from the Port Douglas Marina, and takes you on a leisurely tour of the nearby mangroves.
Of course this isn’t a theme park and so crocodile viewing isn’t guaranteed, even though they claim to spot crocodiles on over 90% of their trips.
We only spotted one, and she was mostly hidden amongst the trees, so I was pleased to have chosen the Lady Douglas, which allows you to walk around the boat, rather than stay seated.
They also let the kids ‘drive’ the boat, and had a colouring activity sheet for them. And most importantly – they served sparkling wine for the adults!
Have Fun on Four Mile Beach
Hanging out at the beach is one of the most popular Port Douglas things to do and our vote goes to Four Mile Beach. This fabulous Port Douglas beach stretches as far as you can see and spending a day hanging out here is one of the best things to do in Port Douglas for free.
Four Mile Beach is an easy walk from Port Douglas main street. The stretch of beach nearest town is the busiest; if you venture further away you should be able to find a secluded stretch of beach to yourselves.
During stinger season (November to March) a netted swimming enclosure can be found in front of the Surf Lifesaving Club. Kids will also enjoy exploring the rock pools at the northern end of the beach.
Browse the Port Douglas Markets
If you are in Port Douglas on a Sunday, be sure to head down to the waterfront Anzac Park in the morning to check out the Port Douglas markets. You will find stalls selling furniture, jewellery, clothes and toys in addition to some delicious local fresh produce and delicacies.
All stalls at this fun Sunday morning market in Port Douglas have products that are locally grown or locally hand-produced, meaning you are guaranteed to find some unique treasures. The lively and friendly atmosphere here makes it one of the best things to see in Port Douglas.
Have you been to Port Douglas? Do you have any other Port Douglas must do items to add for people planning their Port Douglas holidays?
Port Douglas Family Accommodation
There are lots of Port Douglas hotels to choose from, offering everything from luxury to basic accommodation. Here we highlight two of our favourite Port Douglas family resorts.
Sheraton Grand Mirage Port Douglas
This Port Douglas luxury accommodation option is located on Four Mile Beach and is renowned as one of the best resorts in Port Douglas.
Families will be very happy here with 2-hectares of saltwater lagoons spread among the resort. Guests also get complimentary access to the Mirage Country Club, with its 18-hole golf course, driving range, lap pool and tennis courts.
There is a choice of rooms at this luxury Port Douglas accommodation, some offering swim-up pool access. Many rooms offer the option of 2 double beds for families of 4, and those needing more space can opt for the 2, 3 or 4-bedroom villas that come with separate dining and living areas.
There is a choice of dining venues, including the famous Harrisons by Spencer Patrick, the most nationally awarded restaurant in Port Douglas.
Peppers Beach Club Port Douglas
Another of our favourite options for the best place to stay in Port Douglas with kids is Peppers Beach Club.
Peppers Port Douglas is handily located just a short walk from the main street with all its shops and restaurants.
This holiday accommodation in Port Douglas comes in the form of 1, 2 and 3-bedroom suites, some with swim-up pool decks. All except the spa suites offer fully fitted kitchens, laundry facilities and separate lounge areas. Balconies have BBQs.
Note that the 1-bedroom suites are located on the 2nd and 3rd floors, with no lift access. So if you have a stroller with you, you would be better to opt for the ground floor deluxe suites.
All the rooms are arranged around a large lagoon pool, which has a waterfall and sand ‘beach’ for the kids to play on.
The poolside Koko Bar & Kitchen is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and provides drinks at the pool.
How to get to Port Douglas
The closest airport to Port Douglas is Cairns International Airport. The road from Cairns to Port Douglas is a spectacular coastal drive and the distance from Cairns to Port Douglas is 67km. It takes around an hour to drive to Port Douglas from Cairns.
The Best time to visit Port Douglas
The tropical Port Douglas climate means it is always a good time to visit Port Douglas. The Port Douglas weather has two distinct seasons: Summer and Winter.
Winter in Port Douglas runs from May to October. This Port Douglas dry season brings plenty of sunshine, pleasant warm temperatures with cool breezes and low rainfall. Temperatures range from around 17 – 25 degrees centigrade.
Summer in Port Douglas runs from November to April. You can expect hotter temperatures, tropical downpours and some impressive electrical thunderstorms. Temperatures range from around 25 – 30 degrees centigrade.
Buy Before You Go!
Get ready for your Port Douglas family holiday with all these essentials:
Other Port Douglas information
Looking for suggestions for the best restaurants in Port Douglas? Click here to read our guide to the best Port Douglas restaurants.
For more ideas of things to do with kids in Northern Queensland, see our other articles Things to do in Cairns with Kids and click here to read all about taking a day trip to Kuranda.
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